subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

Why Taylor Swift likes Moscato

8 comments

One of the most fascinating cultural aspects of wine in America is the attitude people have that it’s something elite, difficult to understand and not for the common person.

I have a lot of younger friends who share these attitudes. It’s not that they don’t like to drink; they do. They like beer and cocktails and will get rip roaring drunk on a Saturday night. But wine? Something about it just doesn’t interest them. I will, on occasion, treat them to a wine I think is very good: a rich Napa Cabernet, a sweet dessert wine, sparkling wine. They’ll happily drink it, and concede it’s pretty good–but they’ll never buy a bottle of wine for themselves or order a glass of wine in a restaurant or night club.

Call it the Elite Paradox: wine’s upscale image keeps “ordinary” people from liking it.

How we arrived at this situation is complex. I’ve written about it before–the elitest image predates modern American society, having been imported from Old Europe, and then was boosted by inept advertising following the Repeal of Prohibition that sought to tell war- and Depression-weary Americans they could better their lives with a glass of vino. The epitome of this was a T.V. commercial, back when I was young, showing a wedding couple on a little boat in on a pond, he in tuxedo, she in bridal white. They were toasting with a domestic champagne. The message was that you can drink on your wedding day, but no other time. Wine, in other words, was an aspirational product.

For a more modern peek at how this attitude survives, look no further than Taylor Swift. The Grammy award-winning country music star recently told Esquire magazine that “she drinks wine on occasion because, ‘It makes me feel classy.’”

Analyze that. Here’s a young woman with, let us presume, more money than you or I will make in our lifetime. She has the ability to go anywhere at anytime, in high style, stay at fabulous resorts, eat at the best restaurants, party at the most “in” clubs and buy anything she wants. Sounds pretty classy to me. And yet, give her a glass of wine, and she feels “classy”–exalted, stylish, more fashionable.

And not just any wine. “If it doesn’t taste like candy or sparkles, I usually don’t drink it,” she adds. Taylor Swift, in other words, is The Sparkling Moscato Girl, the poster child for why Moscato is the hottest wine in the country.

I’m not criticizing her or anyone else, I’m just observing. Now, on a related note, I read that “By the middle of the coming decade, there will be more jobs in New York City in hotels and restaurants than on Wall Street and in banks…”.

The Financial Center of the World now has decided to be the Lifestyle Capital of the World, as jobs in the financial sector fall and profits at Wall Street banks topple. (Let’s pass the hat…) Somehow Taylor Swift’s “classy” feeling about wine and the proliferation of restaurants in New York seem connected. I feel it viscerally but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Here in the Bay Area we have a restaurant boom too. It’s amazing. San Francisco’s food gossip columnists can barely keep up. In my home town of Oakland there’s been such an explosion of restaurants and bars in my neighborhood, they’ve had to give it its own name: Uptown. San Francisco also is enjoying a brand new tech bubble, mostly built on apps, and centered South of Market (SOMA), near AT&T Park, surely the hottest neighborhood in town. (Well, maybe the Mission is. But SOMA and The Mission are really one big connected neighborhood.) I think in the future historians will look back at this era–roughly defined as starting with the Great Recession and ending when?–as a Golden Age of eating and drinking, with young people (like Taylor Swift) spending whatever money they make enjoying themselves at night. Why not? They have no idea if they’ll be alive in 5 years. They’re young and good-looking now, so they might as well get their kicks while they can. From the clubs in my hood, across the Bay Bridge to the joints around North Beach and the Financial District, through SOMA and over to the Mission and on up into the Castro, they’re partying like it’s 2099. I like to think our young people like wine more than Taylor Swift does, but I could be wrong. One thing’s for sure: they like their Moscato and their sweet infused cocktails. And so, for that matter, do I.

  1. Much of the thing we see with the tastes of people in their early twenties is physiological. Taylor Swift, even though she is old enough to reproduce and drink alcohol has not reached adulthood. We saw this in the baby boomer generation;then it was called “pop wine, Annie Green Springs and Boones Farm which transitioned to slightly sweet Chardonnay. It will be interesting to see who is positioned to capture these drinkers as they mature.

    I for one, cannot get into pay $15 for a sweet infused drink thrown together by a 24 year old straight out of bartending school. I’d rather have a quality spirit on the rocks. My wife and son go for the infusions, but it pisses me off when the bill comes and I find I just spent $45 for my wife, son, and self on about 3 ounces of booze, two ounces of which is really a cheap, generic bar pour.

  2. Much of the thing we see with the tastes of people in their early twenties is physiological. Taylor Swift, even though she is old enough to reproduce and drink alcohol has not reached adulthood. We saw this in the baby boomer generation;then it was called “pop wine, Annie Green Springs and Boones Farm which transitioned to slightly sweet Chardonnay. It will be interesting to see who is positioned to capture these drinkers as they mature.

    I for one, cannot get into pay $15 for a sweet infused drink thrown together by a 24 year old straight out of bartending school. I’d rather have a quality spirit on the rocks. My wife and son go for the infusions, but it pisses me off when the bill comes and I find I just spent $45 for my wife, son, and self on about 3 ounces of booze, two ounces of which is really a cheap, generic bar pour.

  3. Stars like Taylor Swift are saying what people knew before the industry started telling people what’s “good and bad” after WWII; she has the security to say so. Taste buds, which can be a rough determinant of like and dislike, range from hundreds to thousands.
    (Disclosure: I represent Moscato Nation, trade association for the varietal.)

  4. Hi Harvey, thanks for weighing in!

  5. I hear you, Morton.

  6. The millennials are such a diverse generation, and Taylor Swift is only 22! She will go through quite a lot changes – as does everyone in their 20s! But most of them do seem to have a common sweet tooth when it comes to drinking. I’m chiming in from Quady Winery, quadywinery.com, we make high quality sweet muscat wines. Lately, we’ve been going to new wine events that are specifically targeted to young people and we get so much interest at our booth. We think it’s in part because young people like sweet and also because they aren’t listening to the voices of their elders who say sweet wine isn’t quality wine, so they have fewer preconceptions. They taste our dessert-wine style muscats, Essensia and Elysium, and our lighter moscato, Electra, and appreciate them. We were especially popular with young people when we started advertising cocktails and mixing our wines with seltzer and tonic right at the booth. We don’t make the cheapest moscato on the market, so our wines aren’t flying off the shelves, but we do find that those that try it, keep coming back for more.

  7. Thirty years from now, we’ll be talking about the rise and fall of Moscato … just like we do the demise of White Zinfandel after its heyday in the 1980s.

  8. Oh, what could I say? TS is hot and I think she’s right when she said that she drinks wine because it makes her feel classy. Drinking wine makes women look sexier.

Leave a Reply


× 3 = twenty one

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

Categories

Archives